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Rolling Your Own Business Desktops?

Cliff posted more than 12 years ago | from the is-DIY-worth-it-in-this-case dept.

Hardware 643

mike asks: "I'm mulling the logic of my company building its own desktop computers. As the IT Manager (plus sysadmin, janitor...) of a struggling-yet-thankfully-still-alive dotcom, money is really tight. We have around sixty ~400MHz desktops which are increasingly showing their age. Acceptable P4 systems from the big guys run at least $1000. By recycling the OS (Win2k), case, cdrom, floppy, and K/V/M, I figure I can assemble a good AMD system for about $600. That's a 40% savings. Is it worth it? The cost difference could very well determine whether this project proceeds or gets put on the back-burner again."

"Some negatives about rolling my own:

  • Management: I won't get the special business features offered by some manufacturers. Dell's OpenImage, for example, looks awfully nice. But how much does that really buy me in a company of 60 machines? I don't use such stuff now; am I missing out on nirvana?
  • Time to build: Even though we'd leverage Ghost wherever possible, handmade systems nevertheless take time to build, load, & configure.
  • Supporting different platforms: Because money is so tight, I can at best afford a capital replacement rate of 25%-33% (15-20 units) per year. That means I'm committing to the support of 3 or 4 different platforms. Having just one platform is great, but how many companies, even ones that actively strive for it, truly enjoy that luxury? I inherited two platforms (Micron & Gateway); support isn't that bad. With proper planning, I don't see why we can't support four.
  • Hardware quality: How much can I trust a popular Athlon chipset in a business environment? I feel silly bringing this up because I have a few Athlon systems at home, each with a different chipset, and they've been nothing but rock solid. But I know the lack of a really good chipset has been a large contributor to why AMD's aren't more prevalent in the business world. (well, that and long term bullying by Intel).
  • I don't get a proven, prepackaged system that works right out of the box.
Positives of rolling my own:
  • Cost savings. Plain & simple.
  • Increased horsepower per dollar spent.
  • By choosing my own equipment (mobo especially), I suffer fewer OEM shortcuts.
  • I have to admit that I'd enjoy the pure geek satisfaction of rolling out 'my' creation to the company.
So is it worth it, or am I setting myself up for disaster?"

For those that are curious, Ask Slashdot did an article on the AMD issue, here.

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Kiss my ass (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431802)

bitch

you're hopelessly hopeless i hope so (for you) (-1)

beee (98582) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431810)

so turn off the lights 'cause it's night on the sun

Re:you're hopelessly hopeless i hope so (for you) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431819)

My neighbor's dog has a 5 inch clit

Solid machine (3, Informative)

hobbitsage (178961) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431821)

I see it this way. You are the one that will be working on these machines. You must factor in the knowlege that you made them and know what is in them. Just make sure you get a warranty on all the parts since you will not have one on the entire machine

Go for it (5, Funny)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431822)

Maintaining all of them would give you plenty of job security.

Re:Go for it (5, Insightful)

Krimsen (26685) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431903)

I also do the exactly same thing for a small dotcom just like the poster. I brought up the issue of building our own desktops for increased horsepower and reliability (I haven't like the experiences I've had with big name manufacturers) but they countered with "Well, if you leave, who is going to support our machines? At least we can call Dell if we buy from them." I know I'm in this position for the long haul, but they have no guarantees of that. Support is a big thing for small companies.

Microsoft allow it? (5, Interesting)

mrmaster (535266) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431825)

Will Microsoft even allow you to recycle your Win2k license on a new computer?

Re:Microsoft allow it? (1)

hobbitsage (178961) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431855)

They should. If you wipe the old HD's. You pay per machine in use. You stop using it on one and start on another as long as the first isn't still in use it shouldn't be a concern.

Re:Microsoft allow it? (1)

Aging_Newbie (16932) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431887)

But, do you have OEM licenses on those Gateways? I think the OEM license dies with the machine it is on, not some other machine it is moved to ...

Re:Microsoft allow it? (2)

Your_Mom (94238) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431886)

This is a bit hazy, the way I think it stands now (IIRC) is that if it an OEM license, you /CANNOT/ put it onto a new system other then the one that it came with. However, if you buy a bare bones system, you can quailfy to buy an OEM license, you just need to ask the place that you are buying from.

Re:Microsoft allow it? (1)

mad_ian (28771) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431968)

well.. if the CASE is the same, but you swap out the motherboard, you can argue that it was a computer UPGRADE, not a new computer.

If M$ tried to claim otherwise, the anti-trust lawyers against them would have a field day.

~Donald

Re:Microsoft allow it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431895)

Interesting. MS says that the OEM OS goes with the machine, so if you get rid of a box, you get loose the license. But here you're upgrading, so you still have the same box?

Re:Microsoft allow it? (1)

Blasphemy (78348) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431984)

Although it's been a while since I've actually read the EULA, swapping out the motherboard and processor shouldn't be a problem as long as you keep the case (with the magic number stuck on it) and the hard drive (with the OEM installation).

Swapping out hard drives may open you up to attack.

You should also be wary of your installation media. If you got OS CDs, they are probably locked to the BIOS signature of your motherboard.

AMD is not the issue... (5, Interesting)

joshamania (32599) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431827)

...but Microsoft might be. You might want to take a look at the EULA from M$ and see if they allow the transfer of operating system. Not that I'm suggesting you follow that load of malarky, but it may be a consideration.

Personally, if they're just office type machines. Get Star Office and Linux and see what you can do. Experiment with a couple of your users to see how much trouble it might be.

Re:AMD is not the issue... (1)

og_sh0x (520297) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431894)

At what point does the old machine become a completely new machine, and not just an upgrade of the old machine? If he's recycling half the machine, he's still retaining a lot of the machine the original Win2k license came with, especially the most important part: the case with the OEM name badge and the license sticker on the side.

Probably the CPU... (2)

joshamania (32599) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431998)

I would guess a change of CPU is "not an upgrade" but a completely new machine in the mind of M$. Perhaps that's why Intel put that damn serial number on their CPU's...so M$ could track how you moved their software around and get you for more "pay per use".

Re:AMD is not the issue... (2)

Erore (8382) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431911)

I agree.

If you purchased machines from an OEM and they came with an OEM version of Windows (9.x or NT) which you later purchased an upgrade to Windows 2000, then you CANNOT transfer the Windows 2000 license to new hardward unless it too came with a previous version of Windows.

If you upgraded using Upgrade Advantage, then you can't even transfer the upgrade.

Special rules apply to OEM licensing.

Re:AMD is not the issue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431952)

It's the same case.. (at least he says he's recycling the case) so how can they tell it's not the same PC? Do they have an inventory of what's in the box...

He's upgrading the PC... the upgrade just includes a new motherboard and brain.. at least 60% of the components (CD-Rom, Case, etc..) will remain the same.

The PC's will still say Dell or Micron on them and have the same Serial Numbers.

Re:AMD is not the issue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431926)

Umm.. if MS asks say you just upgraded the systems. Which is true since you'll keep some parts.

Recycling (3, Interesting)

airos4 (82561) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431828)

I really don't see a downside to the project... if you had a few people you trusted to help upgrade the systems, you could assembly line the upgrade and get things up and running in a couple weekends. The only things that I would see as a concern would be the age of power supplies, hard drives, etc. But if you do regular backups, that risk is minimized.

Don't forget service and support (3, Interesting)

leshert (40509) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431829)

If, two months from now, one of them dies and dies hard, you're on your own to figure out what went wrong, find a replacement part, try to get warranty service from wherever you bought that component, etc.

Most of the majors offer very good service. Often it's just a cross-ship for the whole system, and you're in business the next day with no time invested by your IT department.

Re:Don't forget service and support (1)

Blasphemy (78348) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431935)

This is not true.

The OEMs I have dealt with (Dell, IBM and HP) all have miserable support. You won't get one of them to come and look at a desktop problem (Servers only please). You'll still have to diagnose the problem and then wait for them to send you the replacement parts (or send them the whole box and be without it for double the time).

You'd be better off building your own and talking with the local supplier if one of your parts goes bad.

Re:Don't forget service and support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3432015)

I used to run the LAN/Desktop department at a 600+ desktop dot-com and we supported probably a half dozen different desktops. When a PC breaks, the effort is the same regardless of whether it's Dell, Compaq, Gateway, etc. You are going to isolate and identify the problem and replace/repair it with a spare or whatever. Vendor support would only come in later if you want to make a warranty claim.

If you deal with top notch, name brand parts, you will still have good warranty coverage. Minimize the different vendors... i.e. If you select Asus motherboards, sticking with Asus video cards will reduce your administrative time when warranty service is required. Buy all your RAM from one place and so on.

We did stick with the Intel platform at the time because the stability of the early VIA chipsets, etc. but in today's market, I would feel confident in a Athlon/Duron/VIA system. I would avoid too much integration on the motherboard, because those take a lot longer to replace than a NIC, video or sound card.

Why not just only buy / build new machines for ... (3, Insightful)

notbob (73229) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431832)

Those that actually need them?

I mean really suzy in the phone center has no need for over 400 mhz, I'm striving along just fine on my 667.

Can you actually recycle the OS? (2, Informative)

Erv Walter (474) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431835)

You might check your OS license. If your current computers are from a mainstream PC provider, they may have an OS license that precludes you transfering the OS to a new computer. You might get away with bending this rule, just hope you don't get auditted...

Re:Can you actually recycle the OS? (2, Insightful)

james_shoemaker (12459) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431870)

Is this a new computer? You are recycling a large portion of the old computer, could you look at this like an upgrade of the old system, not a replacement with a new computer.

Re:Can you actually recycle the OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431942)

And don't forget that using ghost means you'll be loading 1 OS with 1 liscense on multiple machines. Doesn't matter if you actually have 60 liscenses, you can't just use 1 liscense on all the machines.

Does Anyone Care? (-1)

tealover (187148) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431836)

I know I don't. I hope your business fails and you become homeless and are forced to jack off your daddy for meal money.

HAND.

I think time is probably the critical factor... (5, Informative)

edashofy (265252) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431839)

Don't forget having to run your own assembly and tech support shop as well. I can usually coerce somebody to come out from Dell and replace my broken (video card, motherboard, CD-ROM drive) with little effort here at work if the need arises and it's covered under warranty. At your shop, YOU are the warranty guy.

Also, factor in the labor costs (which will be substantial), count the amount of time it will take for you to assemble a machine, the cost of ESD straps and mats (you will be using ESD mats, right?), the time it will take to set up an assembly area, and the space that will take up, etc.

I used to build machines for other people (family members, etc.) Now I just tell them all to buy a Dell because the hassle on me to maintain them is WAAAAAY less. The only machine I build myself anymore is my personal box, because I spec out stuff that is too high-end for a manufacturer like Dell anyway.

Re:I think time is probably the critical factor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431889)

I agree with this post.

Cost savings? (5, Insightful)

MattyG (6408) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431844)

What's your salary/the salary of the people that will have to build 60 boxes? How long will it take? Are you sure $600 + labor costs + no manufacturer support will be less than $1,000? If not, there's no business case to do it yourself.

-matt

The cost savings.... (2)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431846)

depends on what your time costs the company. If you are willing to eat the extra hours to build the systems then yes you can save a lot of money. In this economy the extra hours put in to save your job might very well be worth it. YMMV but everytime I have done this the first couple of boxes have taken a long time then once I had working with the hardware being used down the time to build went down a lot. I would not worry about support you are most likely better than anything Dell could provide.

Re:The cost savings.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431987)

depends on what your time costs the company

I really think this post needs to be modded up, as it may apply more. When I was salaried, working for a relatively small company, I could do this sort of thing without the massive hit the company's books would take.

If you're salaried, and not terribly busy, the short-term payoff is good.

If you're hourly, it's not worth the effort.

If your machines are Dell, you might want to check into their ATX incompatibilities (power connector, etc.)

Also, if you have the time, do some experimentation with similar components -- trying out someone's cast-off ATX mobo and processor may show up potential hitches before you order the new bits en masse.

$600? Surely you can do better than that. (5, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431847)

You can get a motherboard, CPU, and 256MB of ram for less than $400. For instance, access micro [accessmicro.com] (my favorite computer etailer) will sell you an abit AT7, athlonXP 1600+, 256MB of DDR333 memory, and a fan for $339 (with burn-in test.) $40 will get you a GF2MX 64MB SDR. pricewatch [pricewatch.com] indicates that WD 40GB EIDE disks (plenty for most applications) are down to $52 - Call it $75 for a disk, then, just for laughs.

Don't buy more processor than you need; It's expensive. You can always upgrade the CPU later if you pick a good platform. You can do the whole thing for about $450-$500 for each box.

Incidentally, I picked the GF2MX because it has good drivers and VERY fast 2D. If you are doing cad or something, get something from matrox, they have a much better DAC. The 3D is just icing.

Re:$600? Surely you can do better than that. (1)

carpediem55 (157989) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431929)

A outfit such as AccessMicro could save you some serious time too. I just built a system, and I got the MB, RAM(DDR333) and Proc(XP1700), pre-assembled from them. They test it all and it comes with a warrenty. ANd they're not bad priced either. With as many as your getting, you may even get a break. If you figure the amount of time it would take you to build what they're giving you, plus the time you save on not dealing with lemon MB, Proc or Ram,(which your bound to get with that many machines.) It couls well be something to look at.

A bit risky... (2)

b0r0din (304712) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431851)

One thing you've got to look at is warranty coverage and who will support these boxes once they're made. Most of these components will have warranties, but there's different coverage for each one you'd have to keep track of, you might get a bad batch if you order in bulk, which can cost time and money in the long run. For a business environment, even small business, I'd recommend looking to a solid company that has a good service record and see if you can get a bid war going between two companies who have small business plans to have your business. Bottom line, it's probably more hassle than you'd want.

Re:A bit risky... (2)

FFFish (7567) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431925)

Or don't get a bid war going at all: get one of them to commit to being your single-source contractor for the whole kaboodle, and demand insurance in lieu of discount -- ie.) a service guarantee that come hell or high water, they'll have a loaner part for anything that fails within two hours of request, and a replacement part within two working days, delivered.

If you're running a Win2k domain... (2, Informative)

SPiKe (19306) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431853)

Use RIS.

You won't be tied to hardware configs (unless you have funky hardware that doesn't have a Microsoft driver) and you can just plug your machines in with a floppy telling the machine to RIS itself (or certain NIC cards.. was it newer 3coms or Intels?).

There are some things that are not fun about doing this, like popping older apps in to MSI's (something I have had difficulty doing), but it pays off in the end.

most folks won't need the upgrade (2, Insightful)

captainspudly (551559) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431858)

Will the receptionist who plays Solitaire all day need a new machine.... consider that there are probably only a few folks that would need the upgrade.

Look Hard At Labor (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431859)

My company tries to save money all the time by doing things ourselves rather than buy some solution off the shelf.

They end up paying as much or more and taking twice as long. Problems come up - all the while the employees doing the work are on the clock.

As cheap as some pre-built systems come, I'd be willing to bet that doing it yourself and saving much would be unlikely.

.

good dell deals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431861)

how bout some dell p4 1.6's for $350 shipped?
http://www.gotapex.com/deals.php [gotapex.com]

Lower Cost? (1)

hyperizer (123449) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431862)

Figure out how much you make an hour, then multiply that by the number of hours it'll take you to put together each machine. Then you'll see if building your own really is cheaper.

OS (1)

altinsel (54917) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431863)

<mindless>You should put Linux on those computers... Microsoft sucks.</mindless>

SlashBorg

It depends.. (2, Informative)

Chicane-UK (455253) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431864)

Well I can talk from some kind of experience.. we had a bit of a botched attempt at trying this one year and decided never to bother again.

Someone had the great idea to buy a load of AMD K6's and some cheap generic 'all in one' motherboards.. our team of 8 or so techies all sat and built about 30 of this machines in an afternoon or two.. but the machines are pretty stubborn and are already very very out of date - we just used old cases complete with 2GB drives which were more than enough at the time. Now the CPU's are still quick enough for office tasks, but the drives are much to small.. and its too much hassle to go around adding new drives and re-imaging.

I think buying complete systems is the best way to go about this for a number of reasons :

a) Standardised hardware (makes imaging a lot easier)

b) Probably more reliable (you know the hardware combination they give you IS going to work.. sometimes you can put together a troublesome combination of parts and never get the system working right)

c) Having someone else to blame if the system gives you hassle.. (just call their tech support and get them out to fix it!) :-)

Factor in hidden costs. (1)

morven2 (5718) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431865)

You may save your company a lot upfront, but be wary of those hidden costs; lots more manpower down the road, no vendor to call, nobody to blame. Plus, you've got to factor in the manpower of doing it.

not worth the man-hours/time involved (2, Informative)

GutBomb (541585) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431866)

i did the same thing you are thinking about doing now. I think the man-hours involved with building the machines ends up costing mre than buying complete machines. It depends on the amound of machines. We had 30 to build. All identical, so we just applied the same image to all of them. the long part was building them. In the end we would have saved money and time if we had simply ordered them.

Power supply (1, Informative)

mobets (101759) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431868)

Be mindful of the power supply that the new mother board uses. Many of the new P4/Athlon require a four pin power plug for the proccesor that wasn't on the older ATX's

Walmart PCs without Windows (5, Interesting)

crow (16139) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431869)

Perhaps you should consider Walmart's Microtel PCs without Windows [walmart.com] . Assuming you don't need software or monitors, you can get a 1GHz Celeron for $400. The trick is the legallity of transfering your Windows licenses (Which piece of the original computer does the license go with, the hard drive? Can you swap that piece into the new system). [Of course, if you could convert to Linux, that would be cool, but that's probably a separate battle.]

Re:Walmart PCs without Windows (3, Interesting)

bool (144199) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431931)

God, don't buy anything from walmart! http://alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=12962

My experience (0)

neekap (550376) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431871)

My experiences building AMD systems on my own have been great. They are easy to put together and maintain. The savings IMHO are absolutly worth it and you will most likely come out with better systems than if you went with the big guys, more affordable and better performance. This is how it has been for me and my friends, but we aren't every situation.

P-400's considered "aging" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431872)

Well, are they failing? Or are they just not sexy and shiny enough for you? If they're not failing, why do you think new computers are going to increase productivity? If they are failing, what other bad decisions were made 2 years ago besides choosing substandard office machines?

400Mhz is usually enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431874)

400Mhz is usually enough for most business apps. Or just buy a new PIII and some more memory. Perhaps you should reconsider what OS you are running.

I would'nt (2)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431875)

There are a few advantages of building the computers yourself, but it's not something I would do in your shoes.

Consider first the labor costs. Even assuming you can ghost your software and buy exact matching hardware, you're still looking at 2-3 hours per machine in the actual hardware construction/testing phase. Depending on what you could be making billing out to clients (again, depends on what kind of business your in, and your position in the company), you may loose your cost savings.

Second is system hardware management. You know for a fact that a solid system from Dell or another giant will most likely have every component working together and all the neccescary drivers functioning right out of the box. Most of the time off the shelf components play nice these days, but you never know.

And, of course, there is the licensing issues. If you plan on migrating your current software licenses to the new machines, make sure they all work ok.

Just a few things to think about.

Why upgrade? (5, Insightful)

j09824 (572485) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431876)

400MHz is plenty fast for web and software development.

If you must, go out and get some low-end consumer PCs and buy a bunch of spares: it's less work than building your own and still very cheap.

Re:Why upgrade? (1)

Progoth (98669) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431965)

400MHz is plenty fast for web and software development.

not if you're, say, compiling C++.

Re:Why upgrade? (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431992)

I was wondering this, too - what, exactly, is 400Mhz too slow for? I speak writing from a Windows machine, a 433Mhz celeron with 128MB. Unless your number crunching (scientific) or rendering graphics (all 60 of them rendering graphics?) then I can't imagine what they aren't useful for.

Oh, yeah, well...unless games are part of the corporate culture, then 400Mhz might be showing it's age.

Support issues (2, Insightful)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431879)

Speaking as someone who has to support about five hundred of Some Other Guy's Product(tm), the main issue I'd have with us rolling out so many of our own custom built systems is just that. Systems from some other guy (say, Dell) come with pretty comprehensive service plans that lets me make Dell deal with dead monitor/mouse/HD/power supply problems in 24 hours instead of me having to track down the manufacturer and get him to ship me a replacement within a couple weeks time.
If you're already supporting the systems, though, as you make it seem... then this may not be an issue for you. Just find out about RMA policies of your vendor beforehand! :)

$600 to high (2, Informative)

bool (144199) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431880)

I don't know where you are getting $600/system but I can get a 1ghz duron system complete with no scavenging for less than that. I would think w/o software that you could get about $400/system if you really skimmed.

Make sure the vendor installs the chips (0)

cardshark2001 (444650) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431881)

Be sure not to get the board and the chip seperately. Buy from a vendor that will install and test the chip for free. You can scratch the die on Athlons, and ruin them or cause them not to clock as high as they're rated.

Also, some Athlons just don't go the speed they're supposed to.

This has happened to me and a couple of my friends, so save yourself the hassle of taking the parts back.

What apps are you running? (1)

[amorphis] (45762) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431883)

We have around sixty ~400MHz desktops which are increasingly showing their age.What apps are you running that is causing them to show their age? With sufficient memory, P2-400's are still plenty fast for office apps and email.

Personally, I'd spend my money on a 256MB stick of SDRAM and some time to reinstall the OS.

Just one tech's opinion (4, Insightful)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431884)

While I can appreciate the geek factor here, I think you'd be nuts to roll your own systems here. It will eat up loads of your time, overall costing your company more than it would to just pay more for each system. And I'm not just talking build time. When (not if) one of the systems go kerput, you'll end up diagnosing it yourself, RMAing the defective component, replacing it yourself, testing, reloading OS (if needed), etc etc. Compare to getting a Dell or something, where you determine software or hardware. If hardware, it's under warranty, you don't have to so much as crack the case open. Saves a lot of time and therefore cash.

Even if they cost a little more, I think you'll find yourself grateful for a warranty to fall back on. Plus, when machines go boom, you aren't instantly blamed. If you roll your own, any system that crashes will be pinned on YOU, and you alone.

I know that's not a situation that I'd like to be in. Would you?

What do you need them for? (2)

RainbowSix (105550) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431885)

It depends what you need them for. I'm not sure where you get the $600 per unit quote from, but assuming you recycle most of the things, I'd say $300 a unit is likely sufficient.

For simple office work, a $50 Duron and something like a $100 moderate quality motherboard should suffice, throw in a $100 hard drive to increase speed, maybe add 128 megs of ram for a little boost too, without topping $300

For 3-d or crazy amounts of compiling, you can probably upgrade to a 1.6ghz Athlon XP and a new hard drive as well as DDR RAM for under $500.

What I would do is build a couple dual Athlon linux servers and compile code on them while doing development and small compiles locally on the current 400mhz machines, but it depends on your application.

Save even more... (1)

larrypatrickmaloney (556409) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431901)

Even better than building new systems, just upgrade the old ones. You can easily upgrade the motherboard and CPU for $100 to $150. Save $800 per system

UBID and Refurbised Desktops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431888)

I think that you might be well served looking at the various desktop refurbished deals on ubid.com as well. Seems pretty decent, especially in desktop (vs. laptop) arena.

Roll THIS Linux Lusers!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431890)

DESCRIPTION: freebsd, operating system
IDENTIFICATION: no system V init, kernel compile configuration only via file, no documentation

WARNING !
Freebsd is usually armed ! Uses original Bourne shell to annoy users, attacks with IP6 when threatened.

CHARGES: molesting linux and windows users, purposeful consumation of processing resources,
illegal possession of procession resources,
theft of harddisk space, trespassing into
other OSs partitions

WANTED: DEDD
[ Reply to This | Parent ]

Re:Roll THIS Linux Lusers!! **FUCK!!!!*** (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431910)

I hate it when klerck leaves his bsd trolls in my linux folder. :~(

Go with the names (2, Informative)

First_In_Hell (549585) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431892)

I would have to say go with the big name guys. Dell's prices are insane. I cannot build a better system (we are talking quality parts here) for the money than they can. Also , you don't have to worry about moving OSes around . . everything is already done for you. Also to get a decent business system from Dell will cost you way less than $1000 (especially if you use your old monitors), plus most of the time you can get the latest copies of MS office for no charge.

Also I know the name may be tainted, but I cannot stress the quality of E-Machines. If your tech staff knows a bit about hardware, their horrible tech support is not an issue. We have about 50-60 E-Machines here, and only 2 or 3 have ever gave us a problem. These PC's are insanley priced and the components are name brand. You can a 1Ghz+ machine for under $800 with a monitor if you look around.

Remember these big guys buy in bulk that is why they offer good prices. Plus most of the time the PC is ready to go (as long as it comes with the OS you want which you can customize with Dell.)

eMachines...caveats. (2)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 12 years ago | (#3432019)

OK, eMachines computers are decent, and the price is right. However: some caveats.

We have about 50-60 E-Machines here, and only 2 or 3 have ever gave us a problem. These PC's are insanley[sic] priced and the components are name brand.

Here are potential points of failure on an eMachines:

  • Power supplies
  • crappy Samsung Hard Drives
  • icky built-in video/audio

Strictly, the last is not a point of failure, but more an annoyance that is easily remedied.

My suggestion: if you go the eMachines route, replace the boot hard drive right away with a boxed Maxtor and use the Samsung as a slave data drive. Also get a spare Sparkle SFX-L form-factor power supply for each machine...the power supply WILL DIE. I guarantee it. Maybe not this week, maybe not this month, maybe even not this year, but IT WILL HAPPEN.

Also I strongly suggest using the expansion slots to replace the video with something that doesn't suck memory and processor cycles. You can still find decent PCI video cards.

Do this and you will avoid most of the eMachines' endemic problems. It's better to build from scratch, but if you must buy a box with a name, you can do worse (cough*HP Pavilion*cough) than eMachines.

BIG cluster (1)

bool (144199) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431896)

ya know... if you order complete systems not only do you not have to service them but with those other 400mhz boxes you could build one mean cluster... mp3 streaming server anyone?

400mhz showing their age / OEM onsite support (2, Informative)

_jthm (60540) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431898)

Why is 400mhz so bad for desktop systems ? What are your users' needs ? Must every system be upgraded to a 'blazing' Ghz+ processor ?

Cobbling together parts saves cash initially, but what about technical support and part replacement ? Do you call each vendor for each component when something fails ? How do you prove you bought the part and deserve support ?

Example: buy an OEM system - say, a Dell, and you call them when anything breaks that came in the box. Hard drive, keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc. Are you now going to keep track of Viewsonic, Maxtor, Microsoft (periphs), Xircom, Intel, 3com, Logitech, Samsung, Sony, etc etc etc! support contracts ??

So basically I'm curious as to two things -

Why the need for a processor upgrade across the board, which is what I'm understanding this to be ? You're keeping everything else from the original systems, right ?

Do you have a system to manage proving you deserve support to a dozen vendors ? Will you no longer have support from the original OEMs who built the systems you're canabalizing ?

__

Re: Positives and Negatives (1)

ultraexactzz (546422) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431900)

When figuring the cost, you must take your own time spent on the project into account. Time spent building and configuring your systems is time not spent filling other roles (sysadmin, etc). The other side to that coin is that 60 systems will take a good amount of time to build - moreso if you're interrupted every so often with a question or a tech issue. If you get an assistant to run the business operations while you build computers, or vice versa, that's still a tangible cost which must be accounted for. The time saved by getting 60 systems ready to rock out of the box seems considerable - particularly if you're on a tight schedule for this roll-out. Randomly, Phased rollouts might not be a bad idea to start off with - maybe 50/50 or 60/40, as needed - let the hardware that's working well continue to do so for another budget cycle.

AMD vs. Intel (1, Flamebait)

atrowe (209484) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431902)

Most business desktops are built around Intel processors. AMD does not have much of a market outside of the enthusiast croud. Many businesses are hesitant to use AMD processors, and you may want to consider some of the reasons behind that decision. AMD processors generally run hotter and require more power than their Intel counterparts. This isn't a big deal for most home users, but in a business with a large number of computers in a relatively small amount of space, the additional heat output and power requirements could become a significant issue. Also, AMD CPUs are not considered to be nearly as reliable for mission critical applications. They may work out fine in the average desktop, but in a server environment where uptime is more crucial, AMD chips simply have not proven their reliability, whereas Intel chips have built their reputation upon years and years of usage in a real-world environment. There is also the issue of application compatibility. You never know what kind of weird bugs might crop up when you're using a CPU that is not 100% x86 compatible such as the Athlon. Intel DEVELOPED the x68 standard, and their processors are guaranteed to be fully standards-compliant. I'm not saying that AMD's are useless. They are certainly cheaper than Intel processors, but like the old adage goes, you get what you pay for!

I've done it... (4, Insightful)

drteknikal (67280) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431904)

...and I can't really recommend it.

I worked in a 50-user shop, and provided services and equipment to a 200-user shop under contract.

In our case, the only way to get decent specs and meet the client's budget was to roll our own. The other options were too few systems, or systems too cheesy to contemplate. Cheesy as in crap, not as in creamy goodness.

If you go down that path, my suggestion would be to make sure you have confidence in your component choices, and that all your component choices interoperate flawlessly. Any system you have to see again will blow the savings - your first callback or return could be fatal. Make sure you source quality components, and if you're trying to minimize the number of discrete configurations, buy all your components at once.

Spend money on decent cases with good power supplies. Don't yield to the urge to "cheap out" on components that "don't matter" - they all matter. Don't buy cadillac parts, but make sure everything you do buy is good quality, sound, and durable. Keep extra original parts on hand, especially a mobo or two.

Come up with a logo and have the stickers printed - it amazed us how many people would readily accept a brand they'd never heard of, but would never accept an unbranded system.

Your initial problem will be evaluating a number of different hardware options, then settling on those you want to standardize on. Once you get to that point, what do you do with the bastard love children of your prototype period? Don't deploy them to users, you'll water down any faith and confidence your production systems should inspire.

Here's your solution: (2)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431905)

A motherboard based on the nVidia nForce [nvidia.com] chipset. Several manufacturers make 'em. Basically it's the first all-in-one mobo chipset that WORKS out of the box. And yes! it's an Athlon chipset.

With all the issues with the VIA K7 chipset, it's natural you'd feel a little queasy about going the AMD route. Also there's the heat death issues to consider. I understand there are now safety measures in place to save an Athlon XP if the chip fan/heatsink fails, but that was not the case with earlier Athlons. But keep that fan on tight...it's important.

Mother Board Form Factor (1)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431906)

You may find that your brand name PCs have some strange form factor (i.e., not true ATX). IF so swaping out mother boards may be unworkable. Also how much can you update and still pass the M$ EULA??

Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431912)

Acceptable P4 systems from the big guys run at least $1000

What's the definition of "Acceptable" for your application? You can get a pretty decent Small-Business Dell for under $800. Not top-of-the-line, but good. What are these machines going to be used for, what kind of power do you really need? You might be able to go cheaper than you think, and have support besides.

A couple of issues... (1)

PhunkyOne (531072) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431921)

I think there are a couple of large issues looming.

First I think you have to figure how much you make now and figure how much money it's going to cost you to build these things. If you're the catch all now are you really going to have enough time to be building machines, as well as maintain them. It sucks but people time costs money too, could the money spent on you be spent better having you do something else.

The warranty thing is an issue, make sure you are covered under warranty for every part - there is somethign to be said for having an entire machine under warranty and being able to call dell and say I have a bad drive, I need a new one by tommorow morning

I honestly gotta think you can get new machines for under a grand each. You don't need new monitors, keyboards or mice do you? All you are buying is CPUs. You probably need a P4 1.4ish, 256 meg of ram, 20gig hd and you're fine...that should be had by Dell (I am dell biased sorry) or anyone else for around 600-700 or less.

Micro$oft - I seriously doubt you can role your licenses to new computers. If you upgrade a few components you're probably fine but I am fairly sure it says they are non transferable. At what point does gutting a system to upgrade it constitute a new system - I don't know but it may be an important point if you can't transfer licenses.

(plink, plink).

Showing their age? (1)

g1zmo (315166) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431922)

You didn't mention exactly what these desktops are used for, but I imagine it's the typical office apps/web surfing/email duty that most business desktops are used for.

Given that, what's wrong with 400MHz? I don't see how a CPU can "show it's age" by doing the same tasks it was capable of a few years ago. My grandpa is a different matter altogether. He's a *lot* slower than he used to be three years ago.

I assume these PC's got the job done at the time they were purchased. Have your users' needs changed? Maybe that upgrade to Win2K was counter-productive. My boss keeps buying Dells with Win2K and XP even though he says every day how much he hates it. I have refused to give up my reliable 98SE desktop (333MHz Celeron) because it is everything I need to do my job.

I guess I just don't understand how the performance of a CPU could be perceived to degrade over time.

Economies of scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431930)

How many boxes are you talking about? You could very well find it would be CHEAPER to get a configured solution and maintenance from a computer maker like Dell rather than hire half-a-dozen techs full-time to build, troubleshoot, and maintain your company's gear.

Dell has the benefits of economy of scale: ie they build and maintain computers at a very low cost because they do it on a big scale. You'd be hard pressed to match that economy of scale at anything beyond maintaining a dozen boxes. That $400-$500 a box difference gets eaten up pretty quickly with the amount of hired hands the company will need to put these together, test them, and then maintain them.

Imaging the PCs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3431933)

Maybe a better way to go is to learn how to use the OEM Preinstall Kit. Make all the software packages part of the image, then sned the image to the machine. Use DOS boot disks to connect to the network and start Ghost. Your setup from then is minimal (printers, network connecitons, etc). this way you can guarentee the same software versions are installed on every PC.

Also, Seriously look into Novell's ZenWorks. You can roll out software to the PCs remotely, and give the users icons that can re-install the software without a desk visit from you. I believe it's available on Linux (as the server), as well as NT,Netware,Tru-64.

Still deals for small shops (1)

Darth Troll (576144) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431937)

I'm a small company and even though we only manage about 12 desktops we went with Dell. Over the past two years we've had one motherboard burn out and another had a bad video chip. Both were covered unde r warranty and it was easy to get it sent out and repaired. Also, it's easy for us to keep our insurance info together when all the hardware is purchased from one vendor. These are perks for pre-built systems and I think it's worth the extra money for the peace of mind.

Huh? (2)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431941)

Honestly, with the possibility of needing more storage (I'm guessing that 400mhz systems probably had what? 10 gigs or so?) I don't see what problem you have. These are office machines, not servers whose load increases each week. Even then, these not only meet the minimum requirements for win2k (Which, btw, I think is a bad choice), but should be spiffy enough that no one dies of terminal annoyance using them.

Am I missing something? Are these software development systems (where compile times have alot to do with productivity) or maybe web design/graphic arts systems (where someone is bitching for the latest Macromedia tool) ? You've given absolutely zero compelling reasons for such a massive upgrade, with you willingly admit that you are on a shoestring budget. It's a wonder that your dotcom isn't dead like the rest.

more ram maybe? (1)

GutBomb (541585) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431943)

another suggestion would be to simply upgrade the ram on all the machines. a 400 with 512MB of ram is more than sufficient for any office task outside of video editing. instead of $600, you would only spend around $100 per machine.

Time is the Factor (1)

Grumpman (64344) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431944)


As someone who's been in your shoes, I'd recommend it IF time I'd take to build them is less than the savings.

The beauty of just ghosting another clone and handing it to a user, and troubleshooting the bad PC back in the rear is worth A LOT of hassle. You just need to get 5% more PC than what's on the floor (about 2.5% for replacement and 2.5% for spare parts/bad parts found during the initial build), and be prepared to spend the time to build them out.

OEM... (2)

jeroenb (125404) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431948)

If something in an OEM machine breaks, you can be assured that they can get you something to replace it. If you made it yourself and it's been a while (>6 months) there's a good chance the entire component you need is no longer available.

So you put something else in it. Next week something else breaks. A couple weeks later another one. Now you already have four different setups, and the ones with replaced parts will give you trouble if you put a GHOST image back on them. Not to mention the hassle when you have to install new applications or drivers.

I personally prefer the OEM workstations with lots of stuff integrated: video, sound, controllers, NIC with lots of features. And you can be assured these machines will be tested when some ISV who's software you use (Microsoft?) brings out a patch or update. If you have self-made Athlon boxes sitting on all your desktops, what are you going to do when some crucial piece of software doesn't work? Blame the guy who sold you the 60 Athlons? :)

Time spent (1)

Jacer (574383) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431954)

sure, it maybe cheaper per machine, but at the cost of your time. economically, how much will you spend building these machines, and what do you get paid, if the money you get paid is even close to what you'd gain, then factor in warranties (or in this case lack of.) with all this in mind now, pitch it to your manager, see what they say, so either way, you can't be held responsible, as it wasn't your decesion

Maximum perf vs reasonable perf (2)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431959)

Bang for the buck is always a great exercise to play, but how about maximum buck?

Why $600 per machine? Why not.. $400?
Worst case you've got a power supply, motherboard, CPU, and ram. Everything else (peripheral cards, video cards, networking cards, sound cards, monitor) stay the same.

Best case, you can reuse the power supply.

Go for 800-900 MHz, rather than 1.4GHz.
Go for 266DDR, rather than 500+
So you spend about $60 on a CPU, you spend about $110 on the motherboard, you spend about $180 on 512mb RAM... that's $350...

How much performance do you need, how much performance can you afford, and how much performance can you settle for?

We Had the Same Decision to make (2)

puppetman (131489) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431961)

but for our servers, not our desktops.

We returned all our expensive, overpowered equipment to Sun, and moved to hand-build machines.

With two or three of us doing it, it only took a while to assemble, and get the OS's installed.

The biggest threat is probably hardware incompatibility. I would suggest you go to Dell, customize a computer; Dell puts alot of work into making sure hardware works together. By putting together a computer based on what Dell would offer will minimize the risk.

Also, buy from a local computer store that's been around for a while. You want to be able to return bad motherboards, etc. And make sure they have an abundance of the components in stock. If they have just enough motherboards to satisfy your order, and one of your boards is bad, you might have a delay.

You've got what you need already - go Thin client (1)

Audent (35893) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431967)

It depends on what kind of apps you're running but have you considered dumping client/server entirely and opting for thin client (or server-based computing, whatever they call it these days) instead? TCO is much less and so long as the apps aren't highly graphical you can cheerfully run all you need using the machines you've already got. Citrix MetaFrame would be a good starting point (disclaimer: I'm not an employee, I've just done a TCO white paper and thin client came out heaps cheaper than client/server based architecture).

Just stay away from the "name brands." (2, Informative)

Fozz (9037) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431969)

My experience has been that when you're too busy to handle your own hardware/software support, you should find a competent local firm who can build machines to your specifications, support them, and provide warranties.

I have found that name-brand systems (i.e. Dell, Gateway, Compaq, etc.) are overpriced, underfeatured, and have a very limited hardware upgrade path.

When you find a local computer reseller who will provide you with the support you need you can get the AMD systems you want with the componentry you want, without the hassle of taking the time to order, build, and load them.

This arrangment is especially valuable if any of your hardware is DOA. The vendor will take care of any returns. You only get working hardware.

Finding a competent local vendor is tough. Everyone thinks they know their hardware and their hardware is the best. It pays to go with someone who has been in business at least a couple years. Talk to their customers and get feedback. Check out ResellerRatings.com [resellerratings.com] for comments on some of the larger resellers.

Good luck.

my experience (1)

tongue (30814) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431976)

well, take this for what its worth, but at my last company, I was the company co-op for two years, and hence, low bitch on the totem pole... all new computers from oem's went to full-time employees (never mind the fact that i had worked there practically full-time for longer than most of those bozos). the first four months I was there, i worked on a pentium II laptop ~350mhz (i was doing 3d graphics--that's a woefully underpowered platform). When i finally got my own desktop, they brought me a big cardboard box full of parts--unassembled. so i put it together, and used it the rest of the time i was there. Never crashed on me once.

all the OEM desktops? well, anytime one of them crashed, they'd snag my desktop for a replacement while i was out of the office and I had to go track it down when i came back. this happened at least once a month, sometimes more frequently. there was this one time, (at band camp ;), six or seven machines died in the same week and people were fighting over my box :)

moral of the story? don't be afraid of a generic desktop, just don't buy shit parts. as long as you buy stuff that's fairly easy to get a driver for--nics and so forth--you'll have no problems.

Proven way to get new equipment.... (1)

zentex (176409) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431977)

Lease...

AMD is NOT the way to go for a business (i know from experience). Intel's chipset's are more robust and are proven for business'.

Call up dell, get a sales rep and start a dialogue. price out some optiplex's (or a dimention if you wanna go cheapie). your monthly payment on ~25 dell boxen @ ~$800/ea might be ~$300/mo.

The only way to know is to price 'em out and run the numbers. Is using a whitebox gonna save you money? maybe...BUT! what is the 'TCO/TCA' gonna cost you for those whitebox's as compared to a dell? What about warranty? parts replacement? Drivers when you format? Licensing?

I have to go over the same scenerio with my clients day in and day out; for them a Dell is cheaper.

I am not part of dell; I just preach them, my statements are an opinion, YMMV...of course :-)

A bit of comparison (2, Insightful)

X!0mbarg (470366) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431990)

I see you already have a Pro/Con list. Here's a few more thinmgs to consider:

DIY Rollout:
Pros:
You know exactly what parts are, or are not, in your systems, and can (usually) get spares easily.
OS installation/options/configuration is(are) also a known quantity.
Can be extremely cost effective to roll out.

Cons:
Warrenty is provided by whoever you bought your parts from (new), or long-past dead on recycled parts (in most cases).
Tech support? Look in the mirror! ;)
Large Scale network support? See above.

There are a few good reasons for a DIY rollout, but the long term support may be the price you pay later. If you have confidence in your skills, and have a friend or two that can help you out when "it" hits the fan on the next "I Love You" type virus hits, I'd say, Save The Cash, and Go For It!

If your Boss (the guy signing the cheques) want "Guarantees", you just might have to talk to a Big Name company.

Here's a thought: Try selling off your older componants. The extra revenue, however small, might be enought to help get things rolling.

Good Luck eigther way!

seems like math to me.... (2)

Anthony Boyd (242971) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431994)

You could pull off $600 in savings if you did it right -- I just replaced the CPU & motherboard in a 266 mhz box, kept all the peripherals (although I did buy newer, faster RAM), total cost was $325.

But anyway, you think you'll get $400 in savings per machine. OK, how much do you make an hour (on average, if you're salaried)? Let's say you make $40/hour, roughly. OK, so if it takes you 10 extra hours to custom-build the box, then you break even. Because you'll have to do without a support contract -- which I find is rarely used, anyway -- you may want to factor in cost for that, too. OK, so let's say you'll spend 3 hours, on average, servicing each machine yourself. So if you can put together the box in less than 7 hours, it's a savings. But it's really a good savings only if you can custom assemble those boxes in something like 2 or 3 hours. Then the numbers start to show promise. If you save $100/machine, that's $2,000 a year on 20 machines. So-so.

I guess for me, if I could replace the machines for $400 in parts, that's a $600 savings. If I then could assemble the thing in just 2 hours, that's roughly $100 of "savings" that I lose. That's 20 machines/year X $500 = $10,000. Yeah, that starts to sound worth it. If I was your manager and you came to me suggesting this big plan which would save the company $2,000 a year but suck up a lot of your time, I'd say no, let's have you spend your time doing other things that might have more bang for the buck. But if you come to me with a plan to save $10,000, and you are demonstrably capable of pulling it off, it starts to sound like it might be time well-spent.

Um... have you considered support? (2)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 12 years ago | (#3431999)

If you buy a machinefrom a ``real company'', you get support. If a hard drive breaks, Dell will forward-ship you one overnight. If your AMD system breaks...um...you'll have some guy breathing down your neck while you hope CDW has some spares in stock.

In a corporate setting, there's simply no reason to roll your own systems.

- A.P.

Two words: Dell Refurbished. (3, Insightful)

SlashChick (544252) | more than 12 years ago | (#3432004)

(Note: I don't work for Dell, but after buying this latest round of systems, I wholeheartedly recommend them.)

I got two Celeron 1.1GHz systems and a Pentium IV 1.6GHz for $588 each (shipped!) Here [slashdot.org] is a Slashdot post that details my experiences with them.

There was absolutely no way I could undercut Dell on price by building my own -- especially not when you include the cost of Windows XP (preinstalled), one-year on-site warranty, and the awesome cases that open with the press of a button.

It really doesn't make sense to build PC's yourself anymore when manufacturers are offering PC's like this for bargain-bin prices. Plus, you can always recycle monitors as well -- that's what I did with this set.

Building your own will certainly give you job security (as someone else mentioned), but it will also give you no end of headaches. Why doesn't video card A work with motherboard B? And installing Windows 60 times is enough to make even the bravest person run away in fear. Even with a copy of Ghost in hand, you still have the daunting task of putting everything together (and charging the company for your effort). In the end, it's really not worth it to either you or the company. Besides, do you really want to spend the next two weeks testing out RAM and hard drives by hand? Bleh. ;)

Software licenses, OS, and AMD (1)

Tremblay99 (534187) | more than 12 years ago | (#3432010)

Check your MS licenses closely. If you have OEM licenses, they probably can't be recycled; OEM software can only be used on the hardware it was bundled with. Upgrading a PC with OEM software enters you into a gray area. The more hardware you change, they grayer things get. I'm not sure at what point MS considers an upgraded PC to be a new PC, but you could get in touch with your in-house and/or MS to find out.

If you really want to save bucks and cut down on licensing headaches, use open source software. If all you need is replacements for Office and Windows, standardizing on Linux and one of the handful of free / cheap office suites will save you a pile of money and a few headaches (no more macro and e-mail viruses, for instance).

AMD is much more cost-effective than Intel. If you do go with Linux desktops, NForce-based boards should be sweet. There are full Linux drivers for all built-in components (sound, IDE, network, video, etc). Otherwise, check out reviews for ECS K7S5A mobos. They're cheap, fast, and reliable. No built-in video, however.

Finally, look around for recent reviews of customer service from Dell and company. With the downturn in PC sales, most PC manufacturers have slashed and burned their support staff to meet earnings expectations. If you know the hardware in all your PCs, it's much easier to do your own hardware support.

Look at Dell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3432012)

I've considered doing the same thing in the past. I've recently built a nice AMD system for myself at home, and I would love to save the money for the systems we buy at work.

But I'd be hard pressed to find the time and tolerance for 60 machines that I end up building and supporting for the life of the computer.

We buy Dell Dimension systems complete with monitor, Win2K and usually Office XP SBE for less than $900 shipped. Depending on your needs, you could probably come closer to $800 each. I know that extra $200 adds up.. but how much is your time worth? More importantly.. how much is your sanity worth?

Other options... (2)

mbessey (304651) | more than 12 years ago | (#3432014)

Rather than buying from Dell/Compaq/HP...

You might want to consider what a local computer assembler would charge you for a generic PC with equivalent specs. Around here, at least (SF Bay Area) there are a number of mom-and-pop shops that consistently beat the large manufacturers on price. It's helpful to have someone local to call for repairs, too.

Also, a lot of these places will do the upgrading labor for you (and test/warranty the machines, as well).

-Mark

showing there age (1)

greymond (539980) | more than 12 years ago | (#3432018)

im going to guess your doing 3d design? since thats the only reasonable conclusion as to why you would need to upgrade the system (short of upgrading hd/s and memory)

the intel 400 with 512mg of memory and a decent (30-60gig) hd is more than adequate to be running any type of business applications (ie: ms word, powerpoint) and even apps like photoshop and illustrator dont need more (unless your busting out some crazy sheeeiiit)

now if your doing 3d design and using tools like lightwave, softimage, 3dmax, etc etc then i would suggest the intel p4s for 1grand - reason being alot of the 3d apps will run better on the intel chip (not that the intel chip is better than the amd) just that the software is "optimized" for intel processors.

also if you build your own systems that 40% you saved will cost you 60% when the machine breaks and there paying you over time to come in on your days off and fix it since you have all kinds of shit you have to take care of on your normal hours. not to mention running from computer store to computer store finding the lowest prices/compatable parts, etc.

in short :

1) dont upgrade just because you want "faster computers" unless you really need them.

2) dont build your own period. its only a good "idea" much like communism is good "ideally"
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